By Ibrahim S Bangura
The leader of lesbian and gay community in the east end of Freetown has raised concern over what he described as alarming rate of intimidation, violence and discrimination against lesbian and gays community in the country.
Victor Cole (not his real name) told Premier News on Monday that “we are discriminated and stigmatized everywhere in the society.”
He explained that they are usually rejected by some offices in Freetown even if they are qualified for a job. He disclosed that in 2018, one of their members was rejected by a government institution because of his sexual orientation even though he was qualified for the job.
He added that they are usually driven from recreational centers, churches and mosques.
He also accused the police of intimidating gays and Lesbians. He said recently in Waterloo, some of his colleagues were arrested by police in Waterloo because they attended an HIV/AIDS workshop organized for “Men Who Sex Men”. “The Police accused us of promoting gay activities in Sierra Leone. So, they detained our colleagues that night and released them the following day after been humiliated and embarrassed,” he added.
He said, “In some business areas, traders refuse to sell to us because they believe that their goods would have bad luck if they do business with us.”
He said some of them had even been thrown out of their family house by their parents because they are homosexuals.
He revealed that they don’t even walk around in town during daylight. “We only walk freely during night hours. Some people attack us, abuse us publicly and sometimes even take away every valuable items they meet in our hands during the daylight,” he lamented. “As human being, we are also entitled to live the life we want to live. We are supposed to have our human rights. But in Sierra Leone, there is no one to fight for our rights.”
“We want human right organisations to intervene in our situation so that we will enjoy every rights and privileges enjoyed by the non-lesbian and gay people including our fundamental rights.”
He also called on rights organisations to advocate on their behalf so that they will be recognized in the country.
He called on human right bodies to assist them gain their human rights.
Lesbians and gay persons in Sierra Leone also face legal challenges. Male same-sex sexual activity is illegal under Section 61 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, and imprisonment for life is possible, although this law is seldom enforced. But in 2011, Sierra Leone was one of five African countries to join the United Nations’ “Joint Statement on Ending Acts of Violence Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”, which called for an end to acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Homosexuality is illegal in Sierra Leone and most gay relationships are carried out in secrecy. Many hotels and guesthouses mostly refuse to let same-sex couples. Homosexuality is taboo in Sierra Leone.
The Imam of the Masjid Rahim Mosque in Kissy, Abdulai Sheku Bangura aka Sheik Abdulai said that practicing homo sexuality is not acceptable in Islam, adding that any society that practice homo sexuality, the curse of God will be upon them and there will be no development in that society.
Sheik Abdulai claimed that the Ebola and mudslide disasters in Sierra Leone were due to the practice of evil acts like same sex activity.
“There is no law in the Quran or the Bible or the Constitution of the country that encourages the practice of homo sexuality,” he said, “Even the tradition and culture of Sierra Leone is totally against homo sexuality.”